Since starting at the zoo back in January, Johanna has been exceptionally busy! She looks after and develops all of the projects we work on across South East Asia.
Johanna has recently returned from a trip to Java where she visited our field partners at the Cikananga Conservation Breeding Centre (CCBC), alongside Chester Zoo curator of birds, Andrew Owen, head of field programmes, Scott Wilson, and Javier Lopez, veterinary manager.
Together with CCBC we are working hard to save critically endangered bird species, such as the black winged starling and Javan green magpie, from disappearing from the face of the Earth.
We are doing this through conservation breeding programmes, whereby they are managing a population in the breeding centre as an insurance population for the wild. Animals from this population may then to be released into the wild to increase population numbers.
Unfortunately, it is hard to find a secure and suitable release site for the birds due to the illegal wildlife trade. South East Asia, and especially Indonesia, is currently facing a massive songbird crisis where birds are captured and trapped to be used either in singing competitions or kept in cages as a status symbol, displaying the owner’s wealth.
As a result of these deeply-rooted traditions, the forests of South East Asia are falling silent and the birds that CCBC hope to release would be at risk of disappearing into one of the notorious birds markets on the island.
During the trip the Chester Zoo team visited the biggest of these bird markets in the capital of Indonesia – Jakarta – where protected wild caught species can often be found and are traded illegally.
A large part of Johanna’s time on the trip was spent helping CCBC field staff explore and identify potential secure release sites for the black winged starlings that the centre have been working so hard to breed. Several sites were identified as being suitable, probably providing all of the ecological parameters necessary for the birds to establish healthy populations. The next step will be to decide which of the identified sites will provide enough security and allow for close and daily monitoring of the birds.
Andrew and Javier continued their technical support to the centre by providing expert advice on husbandry and veterinary practices. Andrew looked over the breeding practices and advised on the construction plans of new aviaries that would replace the old ones that are in danger of collapsing due to the destructive humidity. Javier trained the new vet and some of the field staff at the centre in veterinary practices such as microchipping.
Watch this space for more updates from Johanna and work we’re doing in South East Asia. In the meantime, catch up on the work we’ve been doing with the Cikananga Conservation Breeding Centre in Java, here.
If you’d like to connect with Johanna take a look at her biography page on the Chester Zoo website here.